BY MICHAEL SOMMERS
OFF BROADWAY REVIEW
A pleasant revival of “Annie” opened at the Palace on Thursday. Frankly, I am not excited about it but I suspect that parents and grandparents will find the show an agreeable entertainment for youngsters, at least for the coming holiday season.
Director James Lapine discards Martin Charnin’s original 1977 template for this production, but “Annie” remains “Annie”: A tuneful, intentionally old-fashioned Broadway musical about a comic strip orphan finding a fabulous new daddy (and a dog) amid the hard-knock-life depths of the early 1930s. Let’s skip further story details because virtually every one of you reading this knows that already.
Of course, Charles Strouse’s bright, comfortable music, Charnin’s able lyrics and Thomas Meehan’s effective book continue to please, although Lapine’s briskly professional production looks spotty.
A straightforward Lilla Crawford presents a sturdy, spunky Annie with a soulful voice and a Noo Yawk accent. Her Daddy Warbucks, trimly depicted by Anthony Warlow, sings very well and so does Brynn O’Malley as a prim, darkly pretty Grace Farrell. Sunny, the pooch portraying Sandy, surprisingly lacks in canine charisma.
Suggesting a ginned-up Meryl Streep as blowsy Miss Hannigan, throaty-voiced Katie Finneran throws herself around madly in a somewhat forced performance that still scares up plenty of hilarity. She is abetted at times by a slick Clarke Thorell as her con-man brother Rooster, whose faked Canadian mild manners as Annie’s bogus father are droll.
Representing a nice ethnic mix, Annie’s chums at the orphanage are an energetic bunch whose littlest moppet, Molly, nabs the most laughs (as usual) in the elfin form of Emily Rosenfeld. Jeremy Davis’ falsetto-trilling crooner Bert Healy, Merwin Foard’s genial FDR and Ashley Blanchet’s belting Star to Be additionally offer capable turns.